What value (monetary) does an Urban Planner hold?
Hello fellow planners, welcome to the world of planning where we all belong and strive to earn the recognition we long deserve and to the endless questions crossing our mind as to what we planners are really worth! Well, I’ve only heard about valuation of properties, businesses or assets. Is it about time we conduct valuation of a profession, of one that is so fundamentally important and contemporary in its nature?
Factors that affect the value of an Urban Planner
Let’s dive in straight to the point.
- In monetary terms, the average value of a planner i.e., the annual package ranges from the size of firm you’re working with to the city where you’re posted, the project on which you’re deployed, plus the position you hold.
- Contrary to the usual perception, a planner deployed in a smaller, younger firm in a metro city may often be paid higher than one who’s working for a larger, older firm in a Tier 2 or 3 city.
- Often, larger firms hire in bulk or through campus placements & pay their resources as per market rate or average salary structure (usually to add on to the larger team & achieve leadership targets) which is often lesser than what the small or medium-sized firms have to offer (as they tend to invest in quality resource for a close-knit team).
- Moreover, positions on contract / fixed term employment often fetch a higher salary (as those are bound by contract of 1-2 year specified period and are purely project-need based) vis-a-vis- full time or permanent roles wherein the pay may be slightly less and the employee is hired for a particular position in the firm (the advantage here is job security, absent in the former).
The disclaimer here is that the compensation bracket still varies geographically, vertically as well as horizontally and there is no generalization here, guys!
Salary Structure of an Urban Planner in India
Now, let’s talk numbers.
- As a graduate after B. Plan, your salary could be anywhere between 3LPA-5LPA, whereas for a post graduate with an M. Plan degree, you could get offers in range of 4.5 to 10 LPA.
- Offers higher than these are mostly either from the management consultancy firms or short-term contract-based positions where deployment is based on some priority project being taken up or wherein the no. of hours you’ll be required to put in are way more than the standard 40 hrs/ week.
- As you add on 1-2 years of work experience to your CV, the market value graph generally remains the same; however, it levels up as soon as you complete 3 years of work-ex, as many government orders (GOs) stipulate M. Plan with 3 years of work experience as the minimum experience for ‘Urban Planner’ or ‘Architect cum Planner’ based positions.
Also Read: Urban Planning Job Description
How important are college GPA/ grades in getting a job?
Marks do not really matter!
- As I have personally seen, not all top scorers get placed through campus placement as selection happens irrespective and often the average scorers get hold of opportunities way better than the teacher’s chamchas & those who keep comparing their studio or subject marks with peers. The hirers often do not even ask about your thesis, forget about your GPA.
- One only needs to make sure to have a good CV in place-short & crisp, one page is enough (less is more). Bring in substance & strength to it- write research papers, take up online certified courses by the World Bank, ADB etc., publish articles, intern or freelance with respectable organizations whilst pursuing the course, because this is an add on & what really counts is what ‘extra’ you have achieved versus your peer group!
Well, well, there is no single formula to calculate the Net Present Value of a Planner, for it involves many factors & assumptions. Although this is not a manifesto, here’s what can help boost your market value whether you’re working in a private or a government sector, for an NGO, not-for-profit, real estate, engineering firm or even a management consultancy!
Why have Good Work Relationships?
- Mentorship or finding a mentor may rather sound a foreign concept, but mentorship from a senior from college, your faculty member, an experienced professional or any inspiring personality you most relate to from the same field, company or even otherwise, can be a huge plus to your professional growth. A mentor is one who can help bring out the better in you & guide you on your worth (here, market value) and direct you towards the right opportunities. You need not label the relationship as that of a mentee-mentor, nor do you have to make it a weekly deal. Regular interactions, QA sessions & discussions with your mentor can help you go up the success graph in long term in terms of the opportunities or sponsorship that you as a mentee are bound to receive.
- Professional relationships or those with your boss/manager/direct reporting counsellor are not just created, but in fact, need to be nurtured just as any other personal relationship. It is also based on pillars of support, rapport, frankness, inputs, time, feedback, learning. Regular one-on-ones and discussions with them are crucial to your performance monitoring and eventually the appraisal cycles. Plus, it also helps you build a reputation in the team & be a professional everyone in the team respects, is willing to reach out to, work with and (who knows) keep you in mind for better opportunities in other projects and even in future!
- Co-worker relationships Personally, my stints in multiple projects based out of different cities helped establish connects with colleagues from other teams & service lines as well, who have been my housemates and are now more as friends. Socialising inside or outside of office, online/ offline, having water cooler conversations, coffee breaks or ‘chai pe charchas’ help keep you sane and are key to having a satisfying & exciting work life. Being on good terms with your office peeps will do you no harm-in fact, you never know what tip or lead comes in handy when stuck and who comes in as a huge help in times of need or even a job-switch!
Also Read: Building Good Work Relationships
How should you choose your job?
- Sometimes, you may not have had any option while selecting your first job, but you most certainly do when it’s time to switch to the second one. After having completed 1-2 years, there mostly arrives a time when you realize you’ve reached the saturation point. This is when you accept the fact that the particular sector no longer interests you and your skill set is not suited to your profile. When you know you’ve extracted maximum possible learning from an assignment or when a project is complete & your contract is about to expire, it is when you find an exciting and better opportunity.
- Even if you do not experience any of the following it is always a great option to have a backup option whether in a different team within your firm or some other firm so you know where to fall back & switch if something clicks, interests you and is an engaging project that you’d like to work on. Moreover, it is important so that you know what the other companies are willing to offer, in short ‘what your market value really is’.
In today’s times where both our profession in entirety and majority of us planners as individuals often struggle with Imposter’s syndrome, it is extremely important to know what you’re really worth! Never settle.
About The Author
Sejal Mathur, an urban planner, works as a management consultant with Ernst & Young LLP. To help fellow planners and the students of Planning community, she has penned down this article to share some insights with Planning Tank.